• In its 15 years of existence, the Star has remained neutral in its coverage of political events across the country.
• The newspaper has received awards for its objectivity over the years and presently runs Kenya's biggest news website.
Raila Odinga, the opposition leader has asked Azimio supporters to boycott Safaricom, Kenya Commercial Bank, and Radio Africa, especially the Star newspaper.
The call is unfortunate, unjustified and irresponsible, especially because Raila knows, only too well, the importance of a free and independent press in promoting good governance and transparency in the management of public affairs, which he is fighting for.
In its 15 years of existence, the Star has remained neutral in its coverage of political events across the country. The newspaper has received awards for its objectivity over the years and presently runs Kenya's biggest news website.
The Star has covered all the events by Raila and Azimio leadership fairly and objectively, and given them page one treatment on merit.
The Star has also over the years published comments and opinion articles by Azimio supporters and even has dedicated weekly columns to writers sympathetic to Azimio and Raila just as it has done with the new administration.
The Star has over the years, reported and criticised all political sides where criticism has been justified. Fair comment has been our guiding principle.
To, therefore, single out the Star for attack, Raila and the Azimio leaders are wrong. The call is not just an attack on the freedom of the media, but puts the lives of those working for the Star at risk.
The Star has given political parties, including ODM, the platform to reach large numbers of people and inform them on key issues ranging from policies to election campaigns. The newspaper, like all other publications, has been an enabler of democracy.
Raila has previously said he will always respect media freedom even if he does not like what the media says about him. We ask him to live up to his own words.
Article 34 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of the media and the law establishing the Media Council of Kenya is clear on how to resolve disputes with the media.
The Council has a Complaints Commission whose work is to listen and arbitrate between the media and those aggrieved. It has semi-judicial powers. Mr Odinga has not filed a complaint, either under the previous government or the present nor has the Star been advised of any.
Article 33 of the Constitution further guarantees freedom of expression, which includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information or ideas, artistic creativity, academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
While we respect Raila’s right of expression, we would like to remind him and all Azimio leaders that the right to freedom of expression, according to the same article, does not extend to propaganda to war, incitement to violence, hate speech or advocacy to hatred that constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm or discrimination to individuals and businesses.
We believe that the statement by Mr Odinga and the opposition has the potential to cause harm to media personnel working for Radio Africa and the Star in particular and should be withdrawn forthwith.
In exercising the freedom of expression, the Constitution demands that every person respects the rights and reputation of others.
The freedom of the media is critical to a vibrant young democracy like ours. In our case, we have held both the government and the opposition accountable in a fair and objective manner because both are taxpayer-funded.
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